Assessing the Validity of The Self Versus Other Interest Implicit Association Test

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There is great variability in the ways that humans treat one another, ranging from extreme compassion (e.g., philanthropy, organ donation) to self-interested cruelty (e.g., theft, murder). What underlies and explains this variability? Past research has primarily examined human prosociality using explicit self-report scales, which are susceptible to self-presentation biases. However, these concerns can be alleviated with the use of implicit attitude tests that assess automatic associations. Here, we introduce and assess the validity of a new test of implicit prosociality–the Self versus Other Interest Implicit Association Test (SOI-IAT)–administered to two samples in pre-registered studies: regular blood donors (Study 1; N = 153) and a nationally representative sample of Americans (Study 2; N = 467). To assess validity, we investigated whether SOI-IAT scores were correlated with explicit measures of prosociality within each sample and compared SOI-IAT scores of the control sample (representative sample of Americans) with the prosocial sample (blood donors). While SOI-IAT scores were higher in the prosocial blood donor sample, SOI-IAT scores were generally uncorrelated with explicit measures and actual prosocial behaviour. Thus, the SOI-IAT may be able to detect group differences in everyday prosociality, but future testing is needed for a more robust validation of the SOI-IAT. These unexpected findings underscore the importance of sharing null and mixed results to fill gaps in the scientific record and highlight the challenges of conducting research on implicit processes.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0234032
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Thornton EM, Aknin LB (2020) Assessing the validity of the Self versus other interest implicit association test. PLoS ONE 15(6): e0234032.
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Assessing the Validity of The Self Versus Other Interest Implicit Association Test
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